Published by: John Howson

Published on: 27th March 2020

In many ways the data produced yesterday by UCAS about applications and acceptances for postgraduate teacher preparation courses is now merely academic. I will be very surprised if the current pandemic doesn’t see a sharp increase in applications to train as a teacher during the rest of this admissions round. Indeed, in some subjects, there is already some evidence of a recovery in offers from the levels of the last few months.

So, first the good news. There has been a surge of offers in Business Studies, art and music. These are welcome, but not yet enough to ensure these subjects will recruit sufficient trainees this year. Offers in physical education are also above last year, but don’t rate being classified as a surge. Most other subjects are still tracking where they were at this point last year. However, geography offers are below last year’s numbers and that might be a concern if the numbers don’t recover over the next few months. The real issue is with Modern Foreign Languages. Here, published offers are well down on last year. Some of this may be due to the method of reporting the data in this subject area, but it remains a concern.

On applications, the overall total for England is startlingly similar to March 2019; 63,820 this year compared with 63,570 in March 2019. However, applications for primary courses are down on last March; from 28,670 to 27,870; somewhere around 250-300 less applicants in all probability. This means that applications for secondary subjects are up from 34,600 last March to 35,940 this year: in excess of 400 new additional applicants, many in the arts subjects.

Higher education has around 400 few applications for primary courses, whereas there are 130 more applications for primary PG Teaching Apprenticeships. School Direct Salaried is the other route to have seen a significant decrease in applications.

On the secondary side, all routes have seen an increase in applications, although for the School Direct Salaried route it is only some 60 extra applications in total to bring the number to 2,130.

As far as the age of applicant is concerned, there are small increases in those in the 24 age-group and the 40+ age-group, and a small fall in those aged 22. All other groups have similar numbers to March last year. There is also little change in the gender balance of applicants when compared with March 2019. This year, 7,260 men have applied compared with 7,140 last year. For women, the numbers are 17,800 this year compared with 17,740 in March 2019.

I expect applications to increase sharply over the next month or so in response to the pandemic. I send my best wishes to everyone working in both schools and teacher education at this difficult and challenging time.

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